Read a piece in SI by Sid Lowe on how the signing of Mesut Ozil presents a problem for Real Madrid with its olio of talented middle men.
It’s a good read; I recommend it, but the author’s points are perhaps not well-founded.
Lowe’s sentiment is that Real Madrid has painted itself into a corner by bringing in Ozil when they have needs at other positions as well as a glut of players competing to get a runout at the Bernabeu.
If Real Madrid were any other team: one confounded with financial concerns and management, one that has to coddle it’s stars and stroke their egos, one that is perhaps not in an attractive location or league then I would be inclined to agree.
Real Madrid has none of these problems. They freely spend and where once they may have kowtowed to their stars, they now have the Super-ego (pun intended) of Jose Mourinho, perhaps the most qualified coach for a team still referred to as Los Galácticos.
What Real Madrid needed upon Mourinho’s entrance was talent.
A stockpile of it. Sure, as the writer correctly adds, Real Madrid acutely, and has stated, that is needs a striker and perhaps a right back.
But consider also that you are talking about a manager who, in the most critical game for his team last season, deployed a tempermental striker primarily at leftback in Samuel E’to to best Barcelona at Camp Nou. Not a peep from E’to as well as an eye-opening performance by the Cameroonian.
Mourinho–in all his magnetism–is more than adept and reaching players and getting them to buy in to the team. Especially superstars.
All Mourinho really needs to do early in 2010 here is get Ronaldo to commit to him. For if Ronaldo–in all his audacious ability–can commit and give of himself than how can any other player on Madrid not?
As TSG witnessed in person a few weeks ago at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, Ronaldo from opening whistle to closing whistle–as our photographer Shaun put it–“worked his socks off.”
In a meaningless friendly.
Madrid, again as Lowe points out, is at 26 players on its roster where Mourinho wants to keep 23.
Now, with the addition of Ozil, the Special One can choose from a perceived glut of World Class players, those who want to conform to his strategy and tactics.
Mourinho would not have been able to choose from World Class talent if it wasn’t there in redundancy. What do you do if you’re goal is Champion’s League and La Liga glory if you have to choose between a World Class talent who plays individually and an above average player who plays for the team? Who do you choose…if you’re Mourinho that is?
That Real Madrid will have to turn around and sell players at a discount to when they purchased them isn’t an the issue Lowe makes out.
This is a team that extravagantly spent over $190M last year on just two players and then hired Mourinho knowing full well that the manager would demand players for his system that might not be the ones that Madrid just spent for last year.
This is a team that purchased Wesley Sneijder for $27M in 2007 only turn around and sell the player for $15M in 2009 when he didn’t fit into last’s year crowded midfield at the Bernebeu.
No, the Mesut Ozil signing doesn’t present a problem for Real Madrid on the pitch and or on the balance sheet.
It is and was in fact a necessity for Mourinho’s Darwinistic means of weeding out who’s going to buy in to his strategy at Real Madrid and play for him.
You can’t do that if the talent, duplicative World Class talent, is not there.
Reply from SI’s Sid Lowe:
Unfortunately Twitter doesn’t offer the space to reply properly.
Thanks for the nod, by the way. and it’s an interesting response, which I broadly agree with.
Now, I know that sounds contradictory but it’s not entirely. A few reasons why and points to make: I agree, Madrid needed a little more talent, although Mourinho has gone for specific players that, until the signing of Ozil, you wouldn’t necessarily describe as talent players. In the article note that they need a striker, which Mourinho still wants, and a left back (not a right back). And that in a sense they don’t need another media punta – which, going by the ‘overbooking’ as the Spanish call it, they don’t. Ozil’s position has more players than any other.
Of course he is not a problem per se (he’s a very good player and at a very good price). And if I had been in Madrid’s shoes, I would have taken him too: as Mourinho said, it was a good opportunity. But as I said in the piece, his arrival does provoke one, very specific problem – and that is what I was writing about. Madrid do need to find an exit strategy, they do need to lighten the sqaud. And that is not so easy as I think you suggest. Money IS tight for Madrid now, it DOES matter what they can recoup. And if they can’t get rid of players, the risk is to dressing room harmony (this is one area, of course, where Mourinho is especially talented). There is also a long-term question mark over Kaka; Ozil does present something of a challenge. I suspect, when Kaka returns that one of he or Ozil will end up playing as a narrow left-sided player in that line of three behind the striker. Mourinho’s greatest skill is often keeping those who don’t play happy, rather than those who do.
That will be the case again. But, yes, Ozil’s arrival does pose a challenge. Incidentally, you mention Sneijder as an example of how Madrid can without any problem get rid of very good players. I would argue that it shows quite the opposite: the desire to bring in certain players forced the departure of Sneijder and Robben – and they have been arguably the world’s most outstanding two players at club football level over the last year (maybe with Messi as an individual, plus Diego Milito). All the best.